Monday 2 May 2011

A Marriage Ceremony

After watching the royal wedding of William and Kathy, I decided to do an article on a wedding ceremony I prepared for others. I have been called upon on in the past to prepare marriage ceremonies for friends and I even prepared the wedding ceremony for my youngest daughter when she was married in a world-famous castle. What follows is the marriage ceremony I prepared for two friends.

After the bride had walked to the altar where the groom was waiting for her, the minister asked the guests to remain standing. Then he began following the script I had prepared for him.

Dearly Beloved: We are gathered here in the sight of God and in the presence of family and friends to witness the joining together of you Lisa and you Harry into the bonds of holy matrimony according to the ordinance of God, the custom of the Christian Church, and the laws of this province.

(The minister will now ask the guests to be seated)


Marriage is an honourable and holy estate instituted by God and sanctioned by all those of good heart who recognize that a marriage with peace and happiness is Paradise on Earth. To love another in marriage is to believe, to hope and to know, that God has included a Heaven below.

God in his wisdom has ordained marriage for the mutual help, comfort and companionship that a husband and wife can bestow upon the other and as the foundation and bond of a happy family.

Since the beginning of history, Man has looked upon this great occasion with solemnity and commemoration for it is truly one of the great moments in the lives of those fortunate to find love in a world that is so often otherwise cruel.

Marriage is therefore entered upon thoughtfully and reverently for through marriage, there is the recognition of all, that there is no greater love than that between a husband and a wife.

It is truly one of God's blessings that make it possible for two complete strangers to meet, then to develop a fondness and respect for one another and eventually decide that their lives together are better as two souls with a single thought, and two hearts with a single beat.

It has been said that many are the names applied to friendship but when loneliness and the need to care for another enter into pur lives, the name of friendship rightly develops into the deeper application of love.

We were all born alone and we will undoubtedly leave this world alone and yet millions of people unnecessarily live their entire lives alone, often through no fault of their own. There can be little to compete with in terms of anguish, than to live a life of loneliness.

Aristotle said that no one would choose a friendless existence on the condition of having all the other things in the world. Truly, those of us who are married and supremely happy as such would gladly forfeit wealth and even health to remain in that Paradise on Earth.

Emily Carr, the famous poet said in 1933, "I wonder if death will be much lonelier than life. Life's an awfully lonesome affair. You can live close against other people and yet your lives never touch. You come into the world alone and you go out of the world alone and yet it seems to me you are more alone while living than even coming or going (from this earth.)

Unfortunately some men and women marry solely for the purpose of avoiding the anguish of loneliness but when their marriage is based on that purpose alone, they learn too late that the loneliness of a person, even surrounded by his or her spouse and children can exceed the loneliness one would find in the suffocating darkness of a tomb in which no communication is possible.

Marriages which come about for this reason alone clearly proves the adage that, love is like a fruit. It is good when it is fresh, but when it dries up, it becomes tasteless and it is invariably discarded. That which keeps love alive is; respect, devotion, caring and sharing. Love only dies when it runs short of those attributes.

Too often couples in a marriage try to reign supreme over each other and are not cognizant of the fact that in a successful marriage, it is love that rules, and as such, there is no desire to seek power over another. But alas, where the seeking of power predominates, true love ceases to exist.

A loveless marriage is a ship not worth the launching. If life within a marriage has taught us anything, it is that love does not consist of staring each other down but rather looking lovingly at each other or outward together in the same direction.

It is indeed a strange anomaly in life that we can love someone whom we do not like and like someone whom we do not love but those participants in successful marriages have mixed the elements of love and like into a single and stronger force.

Sigmund Freud spoke of another anomaly when he said that there is something terrible about two human beings who love each other and can find neither the means nor the time to let the other know, who wait until some misfortune or disagreement exhorts an affirmation of affection.

For the aforementioned reasons, marriages do not always work. Unhappiness rules the home and the family disintegrates into fragments of misery. Then comes the paradox—to live in Paradise on Earth, alone and miserable.

There are those who have made a good try at their marriages but have failed and subsequently convince themselves that love doesn't exist anymore. For them, it then exists only as a memory, and then later, it is reduced to only as a word, a sort of wailing phoenix of ones past which is fleeting like the wind in the trees.

Such married couples should have accepted the fact that they each would have received love, not in proportion to their demands, sacrifices or needs, but rather in proportion to their own capacity to love.

Washington Irving spoke of the tragedy of separation when he said, “To a man the disappointment of love may occasion some bitter pangs; it wounds some feelings of tenderness—it blasts some prospects of felicity; but he is an active being. He may dissipate his thoughts in a whirl of varied occupation. But a woman's (life) is comparatively a fixed, a secluded and meditative life. Her lot is to be wooed and won and if unhappy in her love, her heart is like some fortress that has been captured, and sacked and abandoned and left desolate.”

It is no easy task for a husband and wife to endure the stings of married life without having an abundance of patience for each other's shortcomings. It is that ability to cope with each other's shortcomings that makes their marriage endure.

One can find no meaning which he or she can attach to what is called true happiness in a marriage if that person takes away from a marriage that which brought the couple together in the first place. I am speaking of love—that spark of immortal fire which warms us all. When that spark dies, so does the marriage.

There can be no doubt that some marriages lose their original excitement as the years progress, not unlike that of a sparkling wine that has lost its original taste and has gone flat. But those couples, who have developed a true devotion for each other, learn to their great joy, that as the years progress, their marriage gets better, not unlike a sparkling wine changing to one that has a celestial flavour.

In a successful marriage, a husband prefers his mate before money, virtue before beauty, and the mind before the body. Then he truly recognizes her for her worth for he has found a friend, a companion—he has found his second self.

Marriage for the most part does work and millions of couples spend the rest of their lives in their Paradise on Earth.

The richest love is that which submits to the arbitration of time. Love to those couples who have withstood the pressures of married life, reckons hours to months, and days to years—for love is like a magnesium flame, once it is lit, it lights up the marriage in a way, that it can never be extinguished.

Love between two spouses can enrich their lives, so that as they age together, their mutual love eases the preparation for their eventual journeys of which they must go alone but hopefully will then meet again and share their eternal love with God.

Marriage is therefore not to be entered upon thoughtlessly or irresponsibly, but with a due and serious understanding and appreciation of the ends for which it is undertaken, and of the material, intellectual and emotional factors which will govern its fulfillment.

The official part of the ceremony

Therefore, if any person can show just and sufficient reason why these two persons may not be joined together in matrimony, let them now declare their reasons, or else from this time forward, keep their peace.

I charge and require of you both in the presence of these witnesses, that if either of you know of any legal impediment to this marriage, you do now reveal the same.

Let the groom repeat after me:

I solemnly declare that I do not know of any lawful impediment why I, Harry, may not be joined in matrimony to Lisa.

Let the bride repeat after me:

I solemnly declare that I do not know of any lawful impediment why I, Lisa, may not be joined in matrimony to Harry.

There having been no reason given why this couple may not be married, I ask you to give to these questions:

Do you Harry undertake to give to this woman the love of your person, the comfort of your companionship, and the patience of your understanding; and to share with her equally of the necessities of life as they may be earned or enjoyed by you; to respect the dignity of her person, her own inalienable personal rights, and to recognize the right to counsel and consultation upon all matters relating to the present or the future of the household established by this marriage?

Answer: I do.

Do you Lisa undertake to give to this man the love of your person, the comfort of your companionship, and the patience of your understanding; and to share with him equally of the necessities of life as they may be earned or enjoyed by you; to respect the dignity of his person, his own inalienable personal rights, and to recognize the right to counsel and consultation upon all matters relating to the present or the future of the household established by this marriage?

Answer: I do.

Let the Groom and Bride join their right hands and let the groom repeat after me:

I call on those present to witness that I, Harry take Lisa to be my lawful wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, in whatever circumstance or experience life may hold for us.

Let the bride repeat after me:

I call on those present to witness that I, Lisa take Harry to be my lawful wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, in whatever circumstance or experience life may hold for us.

The Rings

Inasmuch as you have made this declaration of your vows concerning one another, and have set these rings before me, I ask that now that these rings be used and regarded as a seal and a confirmation and acceptance of the vows you have made.

Let the groom place the ring on the third finger of the bride’s left hand, repeating after me:

With this ring, as the token and pledge of the vow and covenant of my word, I call upon those persons present to witness that I, Harry do take thee, Lisato be my lawful wedded wife.

Let the bride say after me:

In receiving this ring, being the token and pledge of the covenant of your word, I call upon those persons present to witness that I, Lisa do take thee, Harry to be my lawful wedded husband.

Lisa. Place the ring on the third finger of the Harry’s left hand, repeating after me: With this ring I promise and give to you the truth and faithfulness of my life in marriage.

Harry. Please reply as follows:

In receiving this ring I promise and give to you the truth and faithfulness of my life in marriage.

The Declaration

And now, forasmuch as you Harry and Lisa have both consented in legal wedlock, and have declared your solemn intention in this company, before these witnesses, and in my presence, and have exchanged these rings as the pledge of your vows to each other; now upon the authority vested in me by our province, I pronounce you ‘husband’ and ‘wife’.

May you enjoy the hopes and peace and contentment of mind as you day by day live and fulfill the terms of this covenant you have made with one another.

Harry. Now you may kiss your wife.

NOTE: After this part of the ceremony is over, the couple and the best man and the bride’s maid went into another area of the church to sign the necessary documents attesting to the marriage while the organist is playing the organ. When they later emerge from the room and are facing the guests, the Minister will generally say; Ladies and Gentlemen. I present to you. Mister and Missus Harry Jones (or whatever their names are)

I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about a slight blunder in that particular marriage ceremony, a blunder caused by me alone. The couple had previously asked me to be their organist.

They also asked me to give an organ recital on the three-keyboard (manual keyboard) pipe organ prior to the wedding ceremony for at least twenty minutes. The groom, his best man and the minister were in a small room behind the organ and the bride and her party were in the vestibule at the front of the huge church.

Several days earlier, I was told that when the bridal party was ready to walk up the aisle towards the groom, his best man and the minister, a red light at the side of the organ will be flashed on. That was to be their signal to me that they are ready and that I should notify the others in the small room behind me that they can walk to the place where they would be standing and when they got there, I would then begin playing the Bridal March.

Unfortunately, on the day of the wedding, I forgot what that red light was for and for this reason, I thought someone from the bridal party would signal me in another way. The twenty-minute recital turned into an hour-long recital. Finally I left the area of the organ and walked to the vestibule to see why there was such a long delay.

Then I heard it. “Didn’t you see the red light? We have been ready for three-quarters of an hour.”

I thought my heart was going to stop beating. I apologized and then immediate went to the small room behind the organ and apologized again for my blunder. The groom said, “Thank God that’s they only reason why we haven’t started. I thought Lisa had changed her mind and everyone had gone home.” They then walked to where they were to stand.

As soon as I sat at the organ, I waved my hand to the people in the vestibule to say that I was ready to start playing the Bridal March. After that, everything went just fine.

I also want to tell you about a funny incident in my own wedding in which I married my beautiful Japanese-born wife. Of course, this time, I was not the organist. Our wedding was in the month of May 1976 when we were married in a huge church in Toronto that had been named after my maternal grandfather who was a famous missionary in Africa in the 1930s.

Prior to our wedding, I told my then fiancĂ© the story of a beautiful woman who had been turned into a frog by an evil witch. I said that when a prince married her, she turned back into a beautiful woman again. She told her friends that story and unbeknown to me, she decided that after we kissed, she would ask in a loud voice so that everyone in the church would hear her, “Did I turn into a beautiful woman?”

Now both my wife and I have a keen sense of humor and we don’t miss opportunities to bring humor into any setting we are in. When she asked that question loud enough for everyone in the church to hear it, I replied in an equally loud voice, “My dear. You have always been a beautiful woman. Now you have turned into a toad.”

Needless to say, everyone began laughing, including my wife and I.

When my youngest daughter was married, I decided to have a little fun as I was walking her up the aisle. I whispered in her ear, “I am so disappointed. I thought I would be able to sell you but alas, it turns out that I have to give you away.”

Both she and her husband like the additional ceremony I had planned for them both. My wife and I bought a rather large fat candle that was beautifully designed. It was placed on a small table near where they would be standing. After they kissed, and were reintroduced to the guests, they walked to the candle and with both holding a Barbecue lighter to the wick and lighting the wick, the minister said, “With the lighting of this candle, this wedded couple has expressed their hope that the memory of this part of the ceremony will be a reminder to them both that their love for one another is bright and warm as the flame of this candle is now.” The candle is in their home and will be offered to each of their children when they too are married.

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